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I've observed most discussions about Tumblr outside of HN. Most discussion revolves around how banning adult content from Tumblr removed any reason to go to Tumblr for many people. These are your average kinksters, artists, creative types who have been forced off the platform because it no longer caters to their interests. Not sure what any of this has to do with HN.



This subthread is discussing a misconception prevalent among HN users. But this same misconception may also be shared by other groups; no one is saying it's exclusive to HN.

I believe your anecdotal experience in this area is true and accurate. But at the same time, the raw stats just don't reflect it being universally accurate across all users. A similar phenomenon has occurred regarding people saying they're quitting Facebook, deleting Uber, moving off GitHub, etc.

In this specific case re: Tumblr, my guess would be that only a portion of them actually stopped using Tumblr at that specific time and for that reason. I suspect some of these people already stopped using Tumblr long ago, and meanwhile some others do continue using Tumblr despite previously saying otherwise. I'm just speculating though.


Do you base that on anything but a suspicion on your part? You are claiming this to be a misconception, can you actually back that up? I have no idea who those new content creators are supposed to be, like everyone else i just saw people with a decade or more of content producing behind them leaving. And not some of the people i knew but all of them. If there are great hidden communities that grew in the vacuum left, please share.


I am basing my statements on knowledge from personal experience. As I said above, I'm a primary source with first-hand factual knowledge about this topic. (If you do a lot of capacity planning for a UGC / social network infrastructure over many years, you become intimately familiar with changes in growth rate over time...)


First of, thanks for sharing your experience and insight here.

You do however see how that is a bit difficult to just accept without any backing up, considering a former engineer might naturally be a bit biased about the public perception of a former project dying? By no means a personal attack, just picture yourself in my shoes. I do understand however if there is just no such data available.

Like everyone else here I saw whole communities with active people, with sometimes over a decade of content creation behind them, just vanish. And those werent just the complete porn focused ones, hell even the few leftists i followed from soup.io days packed up for good. Granted, just my anecdotal experience but given how many experienced the same, i would be confident to say that some rather big, active and motivated communities died and others lost a great share of formerly active members and especially content creators due to the sometimes bizarre overlap.

So if tumblr isnt dying, which new active communities sprung up to fill that void? Did any with the current public perception of tumblr? How is the rate of content creation and interaction looking pre and post porn ban announcement?

Differently put, what good do lurker numbers do if the content creators are gone? Without them lurkers arent going to be sticking around forever and which new content creators are acquired?

I do mean what I said in the last post and I mean everyone who reads this,

>If there are great hidden communities that grew in the vacuum left, please do share.

edit: I also forgot to mention the most damming part, Verizon selling tumblr for under 3m. They sure are convinced its dead for good.


> a former engineer might naturally be a bit biased about the public perception of a former project dying?

Personally I'm not too concerned about that. I have other things on my resume.

I'm more concerned that people keep blindly parroting that Tumblr is/was primarily a "porn site", when the internal data absolutely did not bear that out at any point.

> So if tumblr isnt dying

I haven't said anything about whether or not it is "dying". Afraid you've misunderstood. My point is that HN tends to vastly overstate the amount of adult-related Tumblr usage. Far more users slowly left over time long before the adult content ban.

You want public numbers, OK, I'll link directly to the wayback machine info that I previously mentioned downthread:

Jan 21 2014 (random day around "peak Tumblr"): 110m posts [1]

Dec 16 2018 (before adult content ban): 28m posts [2]

Feb 3 2019 (a bit after adult content ban): 23m posts [3]

While daily posting volume doesn't perfectly equate to MAUs, in my experience with UGC / social networking products, posting volume is closely correlated with overall usage.

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20140121015438/https://www.tumbl...

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20181216220821/https://www.tumbl...

[3] https://web.archive.org/web/20190203200751/https://www.tumbl...


Awesome, thanks for clearing that up


You're talking about accounts with porn content. GP and others are talking about visitors who may not even have an account.


I've addressed that nuance in other comments in this subthread. My statements are accurate no matter how you define a "user".

Additionally, Tumblr started requiring a logged-in account to view adult content some time before the ban (something like 9 months before it iirc).

Furthermore, GP specifically said "forced off the platform", "go to Tumblr", etc which strongly implies people with accounts / using the site's dashboard feed which requires an account (as opposed to visiting specific blog subdomains directly as a logged-out user).

I really don't understand the implicit distrust of my direct first-hand experience here. The amount of gaslighting in this thread is profoundly disturbing.


Because stuff like this this:

> Additionally, Tumblr started requiring a logged-in account to view adult content some time before the ban (something like 9 months before it iirc).

Is only technically accurate; it's irrelevant to the user experience. The ban was implemented by enabling safe mode for all users, removing the option to disable it, then automatedly marking a huge number of accounts as adult (plenty of which that got caught in this step weren't actually adult).

Content wasn't actually deleted, and can still be viewed on your own dashboard for the accounts you're subscribed to, making it less obvious to users with accounts - the ban primarily affected visitors without accounts and the posters who wanted them as an audience. Those posters are the ones who have been forced off the platform, no longer able to grow an audience, but some have been slow to realize they even got caught by the ban because of how it was implemented.


I don't follow how that relates to the topic being discussed here (HN misconception about the percentage of adult-related users/content/traffic on Tumblr). I only mentioned the logged-in account requirement in response to your claim about non-logged-in traffic being relevant to the stats.

I haven't expressed any opinions about the user experience of the ban, or whether the ban was implemented well, or whether the ban was a good idea or a bad one. I have no horse in that race, and was not involved in the ban's implementation in any way whatsoever.

What I am stating is that I'm directly aware of the rough percentage of Tumblr activity that was adult-related from ~2010-2018, and that percentage is significantly less than the numbers commonly thrown around on HN. But several people here think I'm lying for whatever reason, so clearly it's time for me to bow out of this infuriating gaslight fest.




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